In Sensing Sound Nina Sun Eidsheim offers a vibrational theory of music that radically re-envisions how we think about sound, music, and listening. Eidsheim shows how sound, music, and listening are dynamic and contextually dependent, rather than being fixed, knowable, and constant. She uses twenty-first-century operas by Juliana Snapper, Meredith Monk, Christopher Cerrone, and Alba Triana as case studies to challenge common assumptions about sound—such as air being the default medium through which it travels—and to demonstrate the importance a performance's location and reception play in its contingency. By theorizing the voice as an object of knowledge and rejecting the notion of an a priori definition of sound, Eidsheim releases the voice from a constraining set of fixed concepts and meanings. In Eidsheim's theory, music consists of aural, tactile, spatial, physical, material, and vibrational sensations. This expanded definition of music as manifested through material and personal relations suggests that we are all connected to each other in and through sound. Sensing Sound will appeal to readers interested in sound studies, new musicology, contemporary opera, and performance studies.
“Even if we consider ‘the voice’ as a sound source, in an average personal imaginary ‘sound’ is something external, while ‘the voice’ is something internal and intimate. If we add to that the extreme power of language, it’s even harder to treat the voice as ‘sound.’ Eidsheim explores these contradictions in her book with knowledge and vision. Her theory of sound as a ‘universal connection of entities,’ for example, is simply enrapturing….” (Aurelio Cianciotta Neural 2016-06-16)
“Eidsheim’s formulation of music as vibrational practice engenders new ways of considering communication between singer and audience, environment and body, and animate and inanimate materials. … Her work generates wide-ranging and pragmatic resonances for those interested in questions surrounding sound and multi-sensory experience.” (Amy Skjerseth Theatre Research International 2017-07-01) Review
“Sensing Sound offers a singular and original perspective on the status of the voice and the theory of music. Nina Sun Eidsheim teaches readers to think about voice as a multisensory phenomenon and, in so doing, turns the tools of sound studies and critical musicology against themselves, demonstrating conclusively that an understanding of sound is not enough for understanding voice, singing, or music.” (Jonathan Sterne, author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format)
“Imaginative, bold, theoretically wide-ranging and rooted in readings of contemporary culture, Sensing Sound proposes a radical, genuinely original rethinking of human beings’ acoustical behavior and experience.” (Suzanne G. Cusick, Professor of Music, New York University)